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Private law student Shahram wins ECHO Award

Published on 15-01-2024 09:30
Law student Shahram Malouki is already committed to an inclusive society during his studies. For this, he received the Loyens & Loeff Tax & Law Award at the ECHO Awards on 7 December. 'I noticed early on that the law is not self-evident for everyone,' he says.
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Shahram noticed early on that not everyone is treated equally. In high school, for example, he regularly sees this happen to others, especially if they are from a bicultural background. 'I want to get involved and stand up for others, but also for myself, to know what my rights are and what I can do with them.'

From general secondary education to university

After primary school, Shahram starts at lower secundary education. In the first year, it remains to be seen whether he will pass. This makes him realise that he has to do his best to make it to university. Partly due to his high motivation, he worked his way up to university. He has just finished the Bachelor's degree in Law Cum Laude and with Honours. What is his secret? 'I think good planning is crucial. Of course, you have to execute it in practice eventually, but good planning is indispensable to achieve your goals. Choose moments when you enjoy yourself to the max, but also moments when you work really hard to achieve your goals.'

The ECHO Awards

Shahram receives the ECHO Award partly for his work as a youth representative at Police Netherlands. There, he plays an active role in investigating racism and discrimination following the Dutch documentary De Blauwe Familie. This resulted in the 'Joint police statement against racism and discrimination', which states that there is always a sanction for racist or discriminatory behaviour by officers.

I am most proud of founding UvA's first Islamic student association
Shahram MaloukiECHO Award winner

Another aspect the jury was enthusiastic about was the establishment of the first Islamic student association at the University of Amsterdam. Shahram did this together with previous ECHO Award winner Assamaual Saidi. 'This is what I am most proud of because it had a lot of impact within the UvA. There were many Muslim students from abroad who felt lonely, especially during holidays that you normally celebrate with family.' The association now has over 350 members and many activities are organised. He stresses, 'The association is not only for Muslim students. Students who want to know more about Islam, get inspired or who find the activities enjoyable are very welcome!'

Shahram with minister Robbert Dijkgraaf
Shahram receives the ECHO Award from minister Robbert Dijkgraaf

The jury also named his work for Bridges Network, an organisation that connects bicultural students with the commercial legal profession. Shahram organised an iftar there to introduce students to the legal profession in an approachable way. With more than 80 students and 20 commercial law firms attending, it was a great success.

As chairman of the diversity committee of study association JFAS, Shahram is committed to diversity and inclusion. He hopes to introduce more students to different cultures and religions, as well as how different organisations are doing in this area. For example, in February the Chief Public Prosecutor of Amsterdam will give a lecture about diversity and inclusion at the public prosecution, including suggestion for improvement.

Inspiration for change

Besides the great names in history fighting for opportunity equality like Martin Luther King, he also draws inspiration and motivation from his own surroundings. 'A good friend who inspires me is Soeradj Ramsanjhal.' He is co-founder of Bridges Network. 'The impact Soeradj has made is huge. For instance, under his leadership, Bridges Network set up a programme where bicultural students are paired with experienced lawyers. An experienced lawyer can give the student an honest picture of the work situation and has the ability to bring about change.' This is necessary according to Shahram. Because although many firms say they want to be inclusive, he sees that in practice it is still different. Around him, he still sees many bicultural students who are afraid to apply to big offices or who have had a bad experience. 'Many organisations are looking for diverse talent but students don't feel at home there. This can be caused by small things. For example, don't just offer cola as an alternative to a cocktail, but something more equal such as a mocktail. There are also still offices where no vega or halal food is offered.'

With the ECHO Award, Shahram won a summer school at UCLA in California that he plans to use to take courses on human rights. And after his Master's in Private Law practice? 'Maybe I will pursue another Master's at the UvA or abroad. Either way, I will continue to work in the field of diversity and inclusion.' But before he starts working, he plans to take a trip around the world. 'I think there are still many beautiful areas and cultures to discover, from which I can learn new things.'